Snipers at War
An equipment and operations history
By John Walter
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $34.99 in hardcover • ISBN 9781925675092
In the preface to this book, John Walter recounts the challenges he faced in what he initially imagined might be a simple task to collate existing information into a single source on this topic.
Even the briefest glance at this book tells us that this topic is complex and multi-faceted.
Walter describes in considerable detail the evolution of equipment used by marksmen, noting that it was the invention of the optical sight, first used widely in the US Civil War, that improved accuracy.
Apart from the detailed analysis of the evolution of the equipment right up to the present day, there are some impressive sniper statistics demonstrating what can be achieved by outstanding marksmen.
Finn Simo Häyhä, recalled to active service from his family farm in the winter war of 1939-40, amassed 505 kills in less than a hundred days, a lesson learned by the Red Army to its cost. Häyhä’s fieldcraft, writes Walter, was “impeccable” with virtually all of his kills achieved with an open-sighted rifle.
The Russians, by the time of the German invasion of 1941, were prepared: when the war ended, in addition to men such as Vasiliy Zaytsev, a Stalingrad hero with 242 accredited kills, the USSR had trained more than 2000 women as snipers.
After 1945, the sniper’s reputation declined again. However, post-World War II conflicts have given new impetus not only to sniping but also to the development of new and more effective weaponry.